A graduate from the University of Arizona, Erin Huff is now happily back in her hometown of Huntington Beach, CA, where she’s an allocator for Quiksilver, one of the largest surfwear brands in the world. It’s here that she established herself as a true professional—in a field she loves.
Her path to Quiksilver started soon after college, when she entered a one-year rotational program at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Pittsburgh. She shifted from category to category, picking up as many skills as possible and discovering her passion for allocation along the way. After heading home for a brief stint at Skechers, she applied to Quiksilver, where, once again, she’s thriving in allocation.
As an allocator, she manages the inventory at stores, sending product from the warehouse to the shops as orders come in. It’s a position she looks forward to each day, and it’s one that has continued her education. Her coursework at the University of Arizona provided the foundation for her to develop into an Excel ace. “Having Excel skills can be a huge asset because if a system is ever down or if a company is converting to a new system, you can always replicate the logic in Excel and still do your job.”
Similarly, her education in retailing and consumer sciences provided a clear advantage over young professionals with business and financial backgrounds. The difference, Erin says, is she was already familiar with merchandising a floorset, thinking from a consumer perspective, and using retail math. That last skill, according to Erin, is imperative for working in buying and planning roles because the basics provide an easy starting point in allocation.
As important as technical knowledge is in retail, Erin concedes soft skills are equally valuable. Being flexible and multi-faceted is crucial, as buying, planning, and allocating is a mix of an art and a science. “It’s important to trust that what you feel is right based on external knowledge.”
For Erin, working in retail is rewarding because it allows her to thrive in a career that connects her with products she loves and believes in. “I’ve always loved clothes and fashion, but for a long time I didn’t know how I could turn that into a career. It took me a few years and a few companies to find the right environment. But when you believe in what you do every day, it makes going to work that much more rewarding.”
“When you believe in what you do every day it makes going to work that much more rewarding.”
These are sentiments she wants high school students to remember when they’re considering future careers. “There are so many jobs and careers that fall under retail that I had no idea existed until I got into the major. For example, I like working with numbers, but accounting definitely isn’t for me. Instead, allocating ended up being a perfect role—and I didn’t even know it existed until I got into the retail major.”